Chandy demands new dam in place of Mullaperiyar
Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 21 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday said a new dam should be built in place of the more than century-old Mullaperiyar Dam, reiterating that Tamil Nadu's interests will be protected.
'The present dam was built to last 50 years, but has survived double its lifespan. We have only one demand, that a new dam has to be built. We will honour all the agreements that are in place now with Tamil Nadu,' Chandy said while fielding questions at a specially called press conference.
State Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph said in 2009 two reports from IIT Roorkie and IIT Delhi said the safety of the dam was a serious issue.
'A new dam is the only way out and the immediate need is to reduce the water level in the present dam from 136 feet to 120 feet,' said Joseph.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. It is located in Kerala and its waters also serve Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu wants the dam's storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metres) to 142 feet (43 metres) as the state's irrigation needs have shot up.
Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the masonry dam and cause widespread destruction. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it, but Tamil Nadu does not agree.
Experts say if a quake strikes and the dam is damaged, over four million people and their property in districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur would be washed away.